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Paying Off Your Credit Cards

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One of our readers, Jackie, sent us this question:

I have about $15,000 in credit card deb. I have been paying the min payment required for the past couple of year. I pay interest rates of 9% to 20% on multiple cards. I just came into some money (enough that will allow me to pay off all of these balances) Should I just write a check for the balance or should I call and try to widdle the balance down? is this even possible? i don’t want to just write a check for the balance if I can negotiate some how with them Thanks for your time.

Thanks for your question Jackie!

You will definitely want to do some negotiation before you pay your balance in full! At the very least, call each of your credit card companies and request the following things in return for paying in full:

  • Have any fees on the credit card removed - If part of your balance on any of your credit cards includes late, or over the limit fees, ask to have those fees removed before you make a payment.
  • Ask to have any annual fees, or membership fees that are already on your credit cards removed. - As long as those fees are still showing up on your total balance, and they have not been previously paid off, you should be able to get them removed. It really depends on your credit card company’s policy, but it never hurts to ask.
  • Ask to have your interest rates permanently lowered - Tell your credit card company that you have been an excellent customer with them, and that you plan to pay your balance in full. Ask them if there is any way they can reduce your interest rate (especially on your 20% card – unless that’s a store credit account, because they are not as lenient with changing interest rates.) They may offer you a temporary interest rate reduction or a permanent one – just make sure that you know the terms they are offering so that you don’t get burned on it later.
  • You can consider asking to have your limit raised - Be cautious with this one though, since it could mean that your credit card companies will pull your credit report. If you are paying off several cards at once, and you ask to have your limit raised on all of them, then it might cause too many inquiries on your credit report. That would lower your credit score a little bit – just so that you know. The best option would be to pick one or two cards at the most and ask about this.

You will probably have to talk to a manager in order to get some of these things done, but they are all possible. Just remember that if you get an unhelpful, or rude rep, (or even a rude manager) hang up and call back later. It might take you a little bit of time to get these things done too, but the money you will save should more than cover the time investment.

Since you are planning to pay in full you actually have a huge amount of leverage with your credit card companies. Definitely use it to your advantage!

Thank you so much for your question. Good luck in your negotiations!




One of our readers, Eva, also had this question:

Can I transfer my cards to another persons name since this person is using my cards under my name?

Thanks for your question Eva. Typically you can not transfer your credit cards into another person’s name, but it doesn’t hurt to call your credit card company and ask anyway.

I say that it’s not typical because in order for the credit card companies to put the cards into that person’s name, they will have to run their credit report, and get them to sign the account holder agreement. Generally most companies prefer to just open up new account with that person if they are eligible.

If the person using your credit card has poor credit, then you can bet your credit card company would rather have the debt in your name – since you are the one the card was issued to, you are liable for the debt even if someone else uses the credit card. If you have good credit, they will feel confident that you will pay the debt back if the other person defaults.

Alternately, you can get the person signed up as an authorized user. Being an authorized user officially gives them permission to use your credit card, and it will being to show up on their credit report and raise their score.

Definitely remember that if the person is having trouble getting a credit card of their own, their best bet would be to get a secured credit card. There are many advantages to secured cards – you get your deposit back eventually, they have an extremely high approval rate (even with bankruptcy), they almost always report each month to all three credit bureaus, and they have better interest rates than unsecured bad credit credit cards.

Thanks for your question!

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2 Responses to “Paying Off Your Credit Cards”

  1. Edward Jacobsen Says:

    I currently have a bank VISA card with a zero balance and would like to cancel that card and switch to an airlines card. There is an annual fee on the potential new card but the benefits outweigh the fee. I have been told that when the old card is cancelled, it could result in a lowered credit rating. Right now, our credit rating is excellent and I do not wish to jeopardize that rating.
    Please advise.

  2. Michael Says:

    I recently paid off about $10,000 in debt and thought I was in the clear. I have been receiving derogatory notes on my credit report saying that I have a bill that is more than 30 days past due and a credit card that is over its limit. I thought there is no way this was possible, since I paid them all off. Turns out my ex girlfriend, who I co signed with on a card over 3 years ago, has been making this mess. Now at the time I left her, a little over a year ago, that card was paid off. It has been a year and a half since I have seen her. She isn’t denying a single thing and is taking all of the blame, is there anything I can do to fix this? I have already seen my credit score take a hit. Should I expect to see it just plummet or do I have some hope?
    Thank you so much for your response in advance!

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